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Formula 1

Verstappen capitalises on Leclerc’s engine failure at Spanish GP as Lewis Hamilton recovers after nightmare start

LEWIS HAMILTON and George Russell produced two stunning drives to show Mercedes’ revival is back on track.

The two Brits had very different races in the Spanish GP, as Russell finished third and Hamilton came home in fifth place in an incident-packed race.

Max Verstappen recovered from an early blip to win the Spanish GP ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez
Leclerc could not believe his Ferrari suddenly failed in Barcelona

Neither could quite match the pace of the Red Bulls of race-winner Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez, who was second, but this was a huge boost to the world champions.

On Friday, Hamilton was all smiles as Mercedes looked to have sorted out their bouncing problems.

Even on Saturday, despite being out-qualified by Russell, he was talking up his chances of fighting for a podium.

Yet all that seemed to be undone after only four turns when he was squeezed by Kevin Magnussen’s Haas.

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Hamilton suffers puncture in AWFUL start to Spanish GP after first-lap collision

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Hamilton picked up a puncture and limped back to the pits in LAST place.

To add to his misery, his team were slow to change his tyres and had a ten-second pitstop.

He radioed his team saying: “Have I got damage? Because the car is handling terribly.”

He then followed that up with another message that gave the distinct impression he wanted to retire from the race adding: “I would save this engine if I were you.”

He was down. But he was definitely not out, despite his wishes.

By stark contrast, while Hamilton struggled, Russell was delivering an excellent drive in the top three places.

While Carlos Sainz and Verstappen spun, Russell was holding his own while running in the leading pack.

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World champion Verstappen battled back from his spin but was hampered in his fight with Russell due to a faulty drag reduction system.

The Dutchman started losing his cool as the rear wing on the Red Bull would not operate whenever he pressed the designated button on his steering wheel.

The upshot was that he was forced to slug it out without the assistance of DRS and it made for some thrilling action.

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For every bold move Verstappen tried, Russell proved equal, as the Brit did his best to defend.

It was wonderful stuff and shows that Russell can mix it with the best – not that there was any doubt he couldn’t.

The squabble for second and third places was the main focus until pole sitter and race leader Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari slowed on track.

It was heartbreaking as he radioed his team to complain of a loss of power as he pulled into the garage and retired from the race, just as it looked as though it would be a cakewalk to victory.

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Leclerc’s retirement promoted Russell to first place but eventually he was leapfrogged by Perez.


Charles Leclerc held off Max Verstappen from the line


Lewis Hamilton suffered a punctured tyre on the opening lap

He battled back brilliantly to work his way through the field

But the Mexican’s hopes of winning this GP were dashed when he received orders from the Red Bull pitwall telling him it was Verstappen who was on their preferred strategy.

He replied saying “that’s very unfair…” but he played the role of the understudy as Verstappen took his place at the front.

While Red Bull orchestrated their pecking order of their two cars ahead of Russell, Hamilton was making light work of fighting from the back.

Any thoughts he may have had about retiring from the race were wiped away as he made his way to fourth place.

It was typical Hamilton as he brushed past his former team-mate Valtteri Bottas for firth and then Sainz for fourth.

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Yet there was another unwelcome twist in the tail for Hamilton as he received a message over the radio on the final two laps telling him to “lift and coast” – a term relating to his use of the accelerator, which could have resulted in a DNF.

It meant he became a sitting duck and, after all his hard work, he was pipped to fourth by Sainz and had to settle for fifth.

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George Russell defended well against Verstappen but eventually was overtaken
Despite the race being in Spain, hundreds of Dutch fans were in the stands
Thibaut Courtois presented Sergio Perez with a signed Real Madrid shirt

Football icons Eric Abidal and Patrick Kluivert were among the celebrities in attendance

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